A woman's face being painted

How to Body Paint Nude

A woman's face being painted

Body painting is a form of art that utilizes the human body as a canvas. Unlike tattoos, body painting is meant to be temporary and allows for a wide spectrum of creative expression without lifelong commitment. If you are looking to step into the world of body painting or are just curious about how to body paint nude, this blog will arm you with everything you need to know:

How did body painting start?

An image of cave paintings

The history of body painting is as old as human civilization itself. It can be traced back to the Paleolithic period (40000 years ago) when early humans still lived in small tribal communities and relied on hunting and gathering for survival. 

In these early societies, body painting was used for ceremonial and ritualistic purposes, such as initiation rites, religious ceremonies, and tribal celebrations. They used to apply specific patterns and colors to convey messages related to social status, group identity, and spiritual beliefs.

All color pigments were sourced from natural materials such as animal blood, ashes, rocks, and plants. Although the palette range of the period was quite wide, the most dominant colors used were black (from charcoal or soot), yellow ocher (from limonite), red ocher (from hematite), and white (from kaolin clay, burnt shells, calcite, or powdered gypsum).

Popularity and cultural significance among communities

A woman’s face with paint on it

Body painting as a form of art has been and still is practiced by cultures all over the world, each with its unique traditions and significance. Tribes in Africa, Western Australia, and Southeast Asia have practiced body painting for generations. To these indigenous tribes, body painting wasn’t just for beauty purposes, as researchers have confirmed that zebra-striped body painting can greatly reduce the number of potentially harmful horsefly bites a person receives.

In the West, body painting is mostly associated with Halloween. During this time-honored festival, people go all out with body paint to turn themselves into spooky creatures like zombies, vampires, or even superheroes. It’s interesting to see how this ancient art form still has a place in our modern celebrations.

Types of body paint

Before applying any paint on your body, it’s vital to know if it won’t cause any skin irritation or allergic reaction. The  body paints discussed below are commonly used, and understanding their properties is crucial for a safe and enjoyable body painting experience:

1. Water-based paints

Water-based paints are paints that use water as a solvent. As a result, they are environmentally friendly, dry faster, and have less odor than their chemical-based counterparts. Moreover, they can be cleaned with just water and soap, making it great for nude body art

However, they may not be as long-lasting as other types. They also tend to rub off when exposed to sweat.

2. Oil-based paints

Though not commonly used in full nude body paint, oil-based paints are worth knowing since they come in handy in situations where the paint needs to remain intact, even in the presence of sweat or water. These types of body paints typically use organic solvent as a carrier and are, therefore, sweat and waterproof.

So why haven’t oil-based paints become the standard in the body painting industry? Well, oil-based paints have several limitations:

  • They are more difficult to remove compared to water-based paints, often requiring solvents
  • They have a strong odor due to the aforementioned organic solvent carrier. 
  • They can be less forgiving for beginners, as they can be trickier to work with and correct mistakes.

How to body paint nude

body paint being applied on upper chest

Bodypainting nude is a fun activity that requires plenty of time, patience, and supplies. Since you’ll be applying paint products to the skin for a prolonged period of time, it’s vital to do things the right way.

Plan your painting

Unless you’re more of the “spontaneous abstract art on the go” type, planning your body paint masterpiece is a must. Having a sketch will allow you to see if your designs work, potentially saving you time and frustration later on. So grab your sketchbook and experiment away!

Gather your supplies

body painting kit

This is probably the most important step when it comes to nude body paint art, and for that matter, art in general. You will need one of the two body paints previously discussed, paint brushes, sponges, and a palette for mixing and blending colors.

Speaking of paintbrushes, they often come in a set that includes various brush shapes and sizes. This makes it easy to create different artistic effects and details. For faster application, consider using an airbrush, which can be particularly useful when covering larger areas or achieving smoother gradients in your body painting.

Clean the skin

Your skin may look clean, but underneath that illusion lies natural skin oils that can affect how body paint adheres to the skin. So, before doing nude model body painting, you should thoroughly clean and prepare the skin’s surface.  This can be done by gently washing the skin with mild face soap and water, followed by completely drying it. 

Apply barrier spray

Body painting sеssions arе oftеn long, swеaty affairs.  So it is possible that swеat will ruin your dеsign. To reduce this risk, consider using a barriеr spray, which whеn appliеd to skin, forms a thin, transparеnt layеr that acts as a shiеld, preventing thе moisturе from thе skin from sееping through and potеntially smudging thе details of thе body paint.

Going beyond mеrе protеction, this vеrsatilе spray acts as a guardian for sеnsitivе skin, shiеlding it from any potential irritants and allеrgеns that may bе prеsеnt in thе body paint itsеlf.

Apply paint

This is where the fun begins! Start by dipping your sponge or brush in water and then rub the body paint cake with it. Then, gently and steadily begin applying the paint to the skin. Begin with a light layer, and as needed, gradually build up the color to achieve the desired effect. You can then use different brushes and sponges to create various textures and details in your body painting design. 


Among all forms of art, body art stands tall as one of the oldest and, frankly, the most fun. Its history can be traced back centuries ago, and today, it still plays an important role as a form of self-expression. It’s quite varied and accommodating too! So if you want to body paint nude or fully clothed, this art form provides an excellent platform for all your creativity.





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